What Americans Living Abroad Should Do After the Equifax Data Breach

What Americans Living Abroad Should Do After the Equifax Data Breach

What to do after the Equifax data breach? If you're an American living abroad you have already gone through trials and tribulations trying to manage bank accounts, taxes, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and the other ridiculous logistical bureaucratic steps that create a life on paper in multiple countries. Well...guess what? As responsible citizens of the world, we also must monitor our credit from afar lest someone steal our identity. Something that is entirely more likely to happen after the lovely Equifax data breach. No need to double check if you've been affected or not because since you live abroad, you aren't using your US credit anyway. I hate having to worry about identity theft and really don't have the time to paranoically check my US bank accounts for hackers, so, I went through the automated telephone system and froze my credit in all three places. How to freeze your credit Call all three of the phone numbers below (the Transunion number disconnected on me twice,...
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Sugar Water Painting Technique for Kids

Sugar Water Painting Technique for Kids

Easily create beautiful watercolor designs with this simple and fast sugar water technique. My kids absolutely loved painting with this sugar water technique. They each raved about how beautiful their creations were and couldn't wait to try it again. This is a great rainy day activity for kids and adults of any age. Watch as the colors explode and bloom into new shapes as you continue to drop new colors of paint. Ingredients Water color paint Paintbrush(es) Paper Masking tape Sugar Water Creating the sugar water Add 2 parts sugar to 1 part water and boil to mix together Allow mix to cool Directions Tape down your paper on all borders Paint a thin layer of the sugar-water mix onto the paper Drop the paint onto the sugar-water mix in small drops and watch the color bloom Be sure to get your colors onto the paper before your sugar-water mix dries Get creative with your colors! The final results... You can add a black piece of construction paper to...
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Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Why You Should Give Some Cities a Second Chance

Have you ever met someone who raved about visiting a particular city and you wrinkled your nose and shook your head, "Gah, no. That was not our experience at all!" How can people have such different impressions of the same place? Maybe the weather was bad, your kids were whiny, or you were tired from traveling. Maybe you picked the wrong restaurants, got lost too many times, or felt overwhelmed by the crowds. There are tons of reasons why your first visit to a new city or town may not be favorable. Some places deserve a second glance before you write them off for good. We have a list of places we want to visit and see, so we are often too quick to write a city off once we've been there. Been there, done that, let's move on. There are too many places to see and too little time, money, and energy to see them all so why go back to a place where you...
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Growing Up the Saban Way

Growing Up the Saban Way

By Kelsi Folsom "The practice of gratitude and fortitude will never be an unfruitful one, and is, I think, one of the greatest gifts of living abroad."         Ask anyone if they have ever heard of Saba, and most likely you will hear, “No, where is that?” To which I reply, “Well, it’s a five-square mile volcanic island of fewer than 1,800 people located in the Dutch Caribbean. It's home to the shortest commercial runway in the world, one of the most difficult medical schools, and the highest geographical point in the Netherlands. Want to grab lunch?” Saba is a charming mix of cultures. Although currently a Dutch protectorate, the language spoken is primarily English (with Dutch, Saba English, and a sprinkling of Spanish). There are the “expat locals” (American, Canadian, Scandinavian, European, Filipino, and others I have yet to interact with) and the “born and raised locals” (descendants of great sea-captains, pirates, shipbuilders, fishermen, and slaves) in addition to the 500 or so...
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Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Kids recreate the world how they see it through dramatic play. Shouting is emanating from behind the closed door of my daughter's room. "No, Mama, don't go!" "I have to go to work. You have to stay here." My three-year-old is playing in her room by herself. I slowly open the door. Her back is facing me as she sits on the bed with her dolls. We've had this exact exchange numerous times, and apparently, my daughter knows it so well that she is re-enacting our daily ritual of school drop-off with her Elsa dolls. I enter the room and sit on the edge of the bed. "How does the little girl feel when her mama has to leave for work?" I ask but I already know the answer. "Sad." "Yes, but she gets to play with her friends at school." "Yeah, but she misses her Mama sooooo much." Her head is down. Knife in my heart.   Play is a form of therapy My daughter is using play to work out scenarios that affect her...
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Meeting the Parents…Without the Boyfriend

Meeting the Parents…Without the Boyfriend

 Guest post by Carrie Elizabeth Akarslan  You wouldn’t normally meet your boyfriend’s parents by going on a twelve-day tour of Japan together. Of course, our relationship doesn’t follow the “normal context, ” and so this is a story about how I met my Turkish boyfriend’s parents for the first time.I grew up on a small ranch in Oregon, riding horses and shoveling manure. I walked to school and went to church most Sundays. My family later moved to Connecticut, and after college, I moved to Florida for the warm weather and relaxed lifestyle. I lived in a city with a population of roughly 40,000, and this felt like a city to me. Several years later, feeling the need for a new adventure, I found myself alone on the small island of Roatan, off the coast of Honduras. I was considering a position teaching at an international school there so I decided to take a vacation to Roatan to learn how it’d feel...
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Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Family Travel Guide to Öland, Sweden

Ice cream, go-karts, beaches, and alpacas? Explore this tiny island to find some hidden gems off the east coast of Sweden in this family travel guide.   In European countries, it is common for the entire country to shut down in August as people head off to various resorts and tourist destinations. In Sweden, that "shut down" month is July—typically the warmest weather month of the year with maximum hours of sunlight. With four weeks of vacation, what is a family to do? Fortunately, for Swedes, there are plenty of stugor (rustic cabins) to rent, and plenty of islands to visit. One island, in particular, Öland, is located off the southeast coast of Sweden in the Kalmar region. Öland translates to "island land," which is fairly nonsensical but essentially, it's a long, narrow island.   Getting to Öland There is a bus that runs between Stockholm and Öland if you want to put someone else in charge of the driving. You can enter the island either by...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves. The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts. Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids Only It's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides. The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

Life in the 1800s, I mean, in a Swedish stuga

"Where's the chamber pot?" I asked my husband at 2 am. "You're kidding me," he mumbled. Wish I was, my dear, wish that I was. If you ever wanted to know what life was like before modern conveniences, then look no further than your nearest Swedish stuga. Stuga is Swedish for "cabin or cottage, " and they are generally pretty rustic—mostly because they were constructed sometime in the 1800s and electricity and running water were later additions.   Your classic Swedish stuga has low ceilings—people were shorter 100+ years ago—a wood burning stove in one or all of the corners, and if you have a fancy stuga, you'll have more than one room with big heavy wooden doors. For whatever reason, my daughter thinks opening and closing stuga doors is the funnest thing ever and it keeps her busy for at least an hour. Many of our Swedish friends have mentioned spending their Easter holidays and summer vacations "at the stuga," and we always thought...
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Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

Pushing the Limits—The Role of the Firstborn Child

My approach to parenting involves a lot of shrugged shoulders and raised eyebrows to indicate that, "I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm hoping for the best." Based on my conversations with other parents, we're all in the same boat. A few months ago, I was asking a fellow American-in-Sweden parent at what age is it culturally acceptable for kids to bike by themselves to school and to friends' houses? The answer was a bit vague—well, depending on the distance, your kid's ability, comfort level, etc., etc., you know how it is. Basically, the advice was to launch the bike riding kid in steps. You slowly remove yourself from the equation and increase the distance and time they have on their own. For this American dad, he drops his seven-year-old daughter on the pedestrian/bike path, and off she bikes solo from school to home. He then follows along on that same route a few minutes behind her in case she...
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